California Solar Initiative Newsletter - December 2009

Solar Toolbox

CSI Handbook



CSI Green Home Makeover

CSI NSHP Affordable Developer Toolkit

CSI Annual Program Assessment

CSI Program Administrators

California Center for Sustainable Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Southern California Edison

California Public Utilities Commission 

Go Solar, California! Web site

Seasons Greetings , csi-nl-box-aug

Year-end congratulations and thank you to the entire solar industry for your contributions to another successful year! Despite the economic downturn and other challenges faced in 2009, together we have strived to push solar into the future and mark a record year for the CSI Program. Our featured photo depicts a one megawatt system on a farm near Fallbrook, Calif. installed by Golden State Solar Electric. Here’s to a wonderful year for solar energy in 2010 — Happy Holidays!

In This Issue

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Year-End Program Highlights

  • PG&E held 135 classes on distributed generation, reaching approximately 4500 customers and contractors. Of these numbers, 51 were online webinars with an audience of about 1500.
  • PG&E went through two step changes in 2009; however, residential applications continue to come in at a steady pace.
  • Between January 1 and December 4, 2009, CCSE received 2,387 applications and paid a total of $18.3 million in incentives.
  • CCSE moved through two steps in residential and one step in non-residential.
  • CCSE held a total of 45 workshops.
  • SCE received more than 3,600 applications for the general market CSI program and paid more than $45 million in incentives.
  • SCE received more than 70 applications for MASH, totaling more than 6 MW and more than $22 million in incentives.
  • SCE moved to Step 4 for the residential sector in June 2009.
  • SCE held 48 Homeowner Solar Information Sessions (HSIS) across its service territory, attracting more than 3,300 attendees.
  • SCE held nearly 30 "Intro to CSI" classes for contractors, attracting more than 1,500 attendees, including nine webinars that attracted 156 attendees.

For program data updated weekly, please visit the California Solar Statistics Web site.

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Updated CSI Program Handbook Now Effective

The CPUC and CSI Program Administrators have issued the newly updated CSI Program Handbook. The revised handbook adds details pertaining to the new five percent meter performance specifications and test requirements, effective Jan. 1, 2010, as well as changes to the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program, which launched a Sub-Contractor Partnership Program.

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CPUC Approves PG&E’s Initiative to Raise NEM Cap to 3.5 Percent

PG&E’s Advice Letter (3555-E) seeking to raise the cap on Net Energy Metering (NEM) from 2.5 to 3.5 percent of aggregate customer peak demand became effective on Dec. 7, 2009. This is a welcomed step towards allowing more solar to come online in California. Raising the NEM cap was the subject of Assembly Bill 580 (Skinner), which was introduced in 2009, but not approved. With more than 237 MW of distributed solar PV installed in PG&E territory since 2007, investors and solar developers began to raise concerns that PG&E was drawing dangerously close to the 2.5 percent cap and that this would stifle investment in the rapidly-growing Northern California solar sector. The legislature is expected to reconsider the NEM cap in 2010.

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CCSE Moves to Step 6 for Non-Residential Projects

Thanks to further solar adoption in Southern California, CCSE has moved to Step 6 in the CSI incentive schedule for non-residential projects and has lowered the incentive level as follows:

Customer Segment
EPBB Incentive Level
EPBB Incentive Level
PBI Incentive Level
PBI Incentive Level

The non-residential customer class includes commercial, private, government and nonprofit organizations. Please be aware that the final CSI incentive rate is determined by your CSI Program Administrator at the time your reservation request application is approved and may be lower than the current incentive rate shown in the CSI Statewide Trigger Tracker. Per the CSI Handbook, no projects are reserved CSI funding until all required information has been submitted and approved in writing by the Program Administrator. For more information, visit the Trigger Tracker Web site.

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Trigger Tracker Snapshot


The California Solar Initiative Trigger Tracker provides an indication of when the CSI incentive levels are expected to drop by showing the reservation and review status of all incentive classes. This snapshot compares the megawatts remaining in each step with the megawatts under review, so that users can estimate how close the incentives are to declining. When there are more megawatts under review than remaining in the step, it is probable that any new applications will be at the next (i.e. lower) incentive step level.

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Santa Fe Springs Welcomes 500 New Solar Homes; Nation’s Largest Solar Community

Comstock Homes recently celebrated the first phase of what is set to be the nation’s largest solar power community. The developer is slated to build more than 500 new energy-efficient solar homes in the Villages at Heritage Springs community in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

Located between Los Angeles and Orange counties, all of these homes feature the latest in solar power and energy-efficient technology, reducing homeowners' utility bills by as much as 60 percent.

As part of its marketing support for communities that enroll in the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), the California Energy Commission maximized exposure for the community with on-air radio advertisements and a live remote by Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM for the grand opening.

The community opening was successful with local families attending and several homes being sold. The new community was also featured in a Los Angeles Times blog.

For more information on Comstock Homes Villages at Heritage Springs Community, click here.

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PBI Threshold Changing in 2010

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, the CSI Program will have a new threshold for projects required to opt-in for the performance-based incentive (PBI). The threshold is reduced from 50 kW or greater to 30 kW or greater based on CEC-AC rating.

The CSI Program Administrators ask that you familiarize yourself with the requirements of the PBI incentive structure to ensure a smooth transition. For more information, please review the CSI Program Handbook.

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New PowerClerk Feature Coming Soon

A new attachment feature will soon be implemented in PowerClerk to allow users to upload PDF files of the required documentation.

This will streamline the process and help improve the time it takes to receive and review an application.

When all of the required documents have been attached to the online application, it will be considered received by the CSI Program Administrator.

This is yet another step toward a paperless application process, however applicants will still be allowed to send documents via U.S. postal mail if they prefer.

For more information, contact your CSI Program Administrator. To find the utilities in your area, please click here. PG&E will be holding a webinar on the new feature on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009; visit PG&E's solar classes Web site to participate.

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CSI RD&D Second Grant Solicitation: Q&A Now Available

Itron, Inc., Program Manager for the California Solar Initiative’s $50 million Research, Development and Demonstration program, announced the second grant solicitation, which focuses on improved PV production technologies and innovative business models. Up to $15 million in funding is available under this solicitation cycle.

As part of its goal to create a self-sustaining solar industry, the California Solar Initiative developed the RD&D program to promote and demonstrate improved solar grid integration, metering, storage solutions, production technologies and business models. Award amounts range from $200,000 up to $3 million and each project is required to have a minimum of 25 percent match-funding.

Q&A for the CSI RD&D Second Grant Solicitation, the pre-bid webinar presentation, video recording and attendee list are available on the RD&D Program’s Web site.

The deadline to submit proposals is January 13, 2010 by 4:00 p.m. (PST)

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California Energy Commission Announces Winner of the Second Go Solar, California! Sweepstakes

Californians embraced the power of the sun in the California Energy Commission’s second annual Go Solar, California! Sweepstakes that educated consumers about solar and energy efficiency.

Nearly 31,000 online entries were received in the contest and more than 22 percent – 7,124 entries – requested more information about solar energy.

The sweepstakes, which ended Oct. 31, 2009, challenged entrants to test their solar knowledge for a chance to win “green” prizes, including a Green Home Makeover. Visitors took a quiz and watched an educational video about the Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) on the Go Solar, California! Web site.

Francesca Codianni of Clovis won the Green Home Makeover after taking the ”Solar Quiz,” and her home will be outfitted with new features including energy-efficient insulation, a solar hot water system and ENERGY STAR® appliances. Prizes were provided by Clear Channel.

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SASH Sub-Contractor Partnership Program Accepting Applications

PV-solar contractors interested in installing solar systems for low-income homeowners are encouraged to apply to the SASH Sub-Contractor Partnership Program (SPP). GRID Alternatives, the CSI SASH Program Manager, is now accepting SPP applications. Click here for the application or visit the GRID Alternatives Web site for more information.

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Upcoming Workshops and Trainings by Program Territory

csi-nl-box-sept Free Statewide Workshops by the California Solar Initiative
CSI Program Administrators sponsor free, ongoing workshops for solar customers and installers on a variety of topics.

Workshops in PG&E Service Territory

Workshops in SDG&E Service Territory by the California Center for Sustainable Energy

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Call for Photos of CSI-Funded Solar Systems

Calling all installers and solar system owners! This is a great opportunity to showcase your CSI-funded solar projects. The California Solar Initiative Program seeks photos of CSI-funded solar systems for use in future newsletters or other CSI-related publicity. Photos can include completed solar PV systems, shots of installations in progress or solar water heating installations.

Please provide the following when submitting your solar PV system, solar water heating system or installation photos.

  • Name of photographer
  • Name of installer, seller and/or system owner
  • System size and location
  • Date project was installed
  • Full permission to use photo in CSI-related publicity

Submit your CSI-funded solar system photos here.

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CCSE | PG&E | SCE | © 2009 California Solar Initiative


The CSI program is funded by California investor-owned utility customers and administered by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the California Center for Sustainable Energy under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, California 94102